Date: December 1, 2017
Fox 9 News in Minnesota, along with other local and national media, reported on an $850,000 settlement between the U.S. government and a dermatologist based in Burnsville, Minn. who was accused of defrauding the federal Medicare program. The whistleblower in the case was TELG client Jeff Samuelson, whose story was explained to Fox 9 by his attorney, TELG principal David L. Scher.
"Doctors who are highly ethical, like Dr. Samuelson, have a very low tolerance for other professionals who engage in what they perceive to be fraud."
David L. Scher
Minnesota dermatologist to pay $850,000 to settle Medicare fraud claim
(Transcribed by The Employment Law Group)
Tim Blotz (anchor): A local dermatologist must pay back nearly $1 million after he is busted for Medicare fraud. He was caught thanks to a colleague who turned him in. Our Jack Highberger spoke to that whistleblower’s lawyer tonight. Jack?
Jack Highberger (reporter): Yeah, so Tim this settlement comes after allegations of unnecessary procedures and outright Medicare fraud, all of it flying under the radar for over seven years until another doctor blew the whistle.
In the world of dermatology, it’s a pretty common procedure: Removing lesions that could be cancerous. But for Burnsville doctor Michael Ebertz, it allegedly became a window to fraud.
David Scher: He felt that Dr. Ebertz’ treatment of patients was not just medically unnecessary but could be harmful.
Highberger: It was Dr. Jeff Samuelson that first blew the whistle. A partner in the Burnsville practice, he noticed Ebertz was overbilling Medicare for a variety of procedures, including lesion removal.
Scher: After a while he began to look at the medical records, and determined that Dr. Ebertz was not only removing these lesions, but was also billing Medicare for them.
Highberger: Samuelson’s attorney tells Fox 9 Medicare only pays for the procedures if the lesions are malignant — and despite the fact most were benign, Ebertz would allegedly mark them as cancerous, making money in the process.
Samuelson quit the practice in 2014 and filed a lawsuit the next year. And on Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced a settlement, [with] Dr. Ebertz and his company agreeing to repay taxpayers $850,000.
Scher: Doctors who are highly ethical, like Dr. Samuelson, have a very low tolerance for other professionals who engage in what they perceive to be fraud.
Highberger: And because of the way this lawsuit was structured, Dr. Samuelson was actually suing on the behalf of the United States.
Tim, Karen, back to you.
Dermatologist settles allegations brought by whistle-blower
From the Star Tribune (Dec. 2, 2017)
MINNEAPOLIS — Authorities say a Minnesota dermatology practice is paying $850,000 to settle allegations of falsely billing Medicare for procedures and other services.
Federal and state prosecutors accuse Skin Care Doctors and president and CEO Dr. Michael Ebertz of submitting false claims between January 2008 and December 2015.
A statement by a Minneapolis law firm says the agreement reflected a “business decision” by Skin Care Doctors and Ebertz to settle the matter in order to avoid the uncertainty and expense of litigation while continuing to serve patients. The statement says that while Ebertz and his practice cooperated in resolving the matter, they deny all allegations by prosecutors.
Authorities say the whistle-blower worked in the practice and will share in the recovery.
» This coverage originated with the Associated Press and also was carried by Minneapolis Public Radio, CBS Minnesota, KARE11 (NBC), the CBS Minnesota, St. Cloud Times, and other local and national outlets.
Doctor blows the whistle on dermatology office’s alleged Medicare fraud
From the Pioneer Press (Dec. 1, 2017)
A Minnesota dermatologist and his practice are paying $850,000 to settle allegations of falsely billing Medicare for dermatology procedures, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The whistle-blower formerly was a physician in the practice, the office said.
Federal and state prosecutors took Skin Care Doctors and its president and CEO, Dr. Michael Ebertz, to court, alleging they submitted false claims. Skin Care Doctors has locations in Burnsville, Edina, Orono and St. Cloud.
“Medicare is a public trust. This resolution against both the company and its CEO safeguards that trust and restores needed funds to Medicare,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Bildsten said in a statement. “This office is committed to taking necessary actions to rectify inflated billing to federal programs.”
Whistleblower brings allegations of Medicare fraud to light
From the Lakeshore Weekly News (Dec. 1, 2017)
A whistleblower helped federal prosecutors bring a fraud case against a Twin Cities dermatology chain with offices in Burnsville, Orono, Edina and St. Cloud.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis announced on Friday, Dec. 1, that Skin Care Doctors and its CEO founder, Michael Ebertz, agreed to pay $850,000 to settle the case. The prosecutors had alleged the dermatology practice filed false Medicare claims between January 2008 and December 2015.
The whistleblower, Dr. Jeff Samuelson, worked with Washington, D.C.-based Employment Law Group and with Minneapolis attorney Susan Coler, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann M. Bildtsen, to present their findings.
As a result of blowing the whistle, Samuelson no longer works with Skin Care Doctors. He now practices in California.
“Jeff took a tough stand against his boss and was pushed out of the SCD practice as a result,” said R. Scott Oswald, managing principal of The Employment Law Group. “He could have kept quiet and moved on, but instead he stood up for taxpayers and future SCD patients, achieving a measure of justice with the strongest whistleblower tool available for Medicare fraud — the False Claims Act. He’s a model of medical ethics and a beacon for doctors and other medical professionals who witness wrongdoing by their colleagues.”
Coler said Samuelson came forward like most whistleblowers out of a sense of right and wrong.